Education is the movement from darkness to light

Education is the movement from darkness to light

Bulgarian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

May 17, 2023
Education is the movement from darkness to light
May 20–November 26, 2023
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Opening of the pavilion and roundtable: May 20, 10:30am
Centro Culturale don Orione Artigianelli
Sala del Tiziano
Dorsoduro 919
30123 Venice
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Commissioner: Alexander Staynov / Curator: Boris Tikvarski / Exhibitors: Alexander Dumarey, Bojidara Valkova, Mariya Gyaurova, Mike Fritsch and Kostadin Kokalanov. Opening of the pavilion and round table, May 20, 10:30 am.

Bulgaria participates in the 18th International Venice Architecture Biennale with the exhibition Education is the movement from darkness to light, which focuses on the traces of existence, depopulation, and the abandoned schools in the country. It is an exploration of a future marked by urban decline and rural flight.

The project was selected following a national competition organized by The Ministry of Culture, The Chamber of Architects in Bulgaria, and the Union of Architects.

The country has been experiencing a rapid population decline for the last three decades and the process is expected to continue in the future. As the population dwindles there are fewer and fewer children to fill the schools. To visually illustrate the process of abandonment and population decline the curators Boris Tikvarski, Bojidara Valkova, and Mariya Gyaurova teamed up with the Belgian photographer Alexander Dumarey. The exhibition showcases images collected during his travels in the country, information about the photographed schools, furniture, and tools collected from the abandoned sites. The curators collaborated with institutions and municipalities to gather these artifacts.

The exhibition is divided into three main zones—the “entrance,” “classroom,” and “the interview/debate” area, inviting visitors to gradually immerse themselves in the complex and pressing issue of shrinking regions. The exhibition's scenography is more than a mere backdrop; it is a platform for thoughtful consideration, prompting visitors to engage in dialogue about the challenges we face.

How do we cope with shrinking regions? How to address preservation? How to adapt to change? The topics have been absent and not widely discussed in the country, and the curators hope to provoke and lay the foundations for a more conscientious and informed discourse about shrinking regions.

The phenomenon is not unique to the country but pervades throughout the Eastern block, and forecasts predict a global population decline. The exhibition invites visitors to think critically about the broader implications and to participate actively in creating solutions.

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Bulgarian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
May 17, 2023

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